On the defensive

The digital editor of This Is Cornwall has posted an angry reply to a reader’s claims that their journalists spend too much time blogging and not enough time out on the streets reporting. He says:

“We have more reporters in every area across the county than anyone else, who work their hardest to bring more local news as it happens from their district offices. And online, we’re now uploading far more content than ever before.”

But, as someone very sensibly raised in the discussion after our presentation, what about people who don’t, for whatever, have access to the internet? A quick flick through any of the local papers shows that really, most of the news stories comes from obviously emailed press releases, fund-raising events and the odd police alert.

Having spent two extremely dispiriting weeks working for my local paper (which shall remain nameless), I can confirm that most local reporters spend all their time glued to their desks, only leaving the office to go for lunch at the pub next door. Only once was I asked to go out and vox for local opinion on a story. And this wasn’t a newspaper office based in the sticks, where it takes half an hour to get to civilisation; we were in a place with a population of 10,000. 

The website for the paper now makes a big thing of having a weekly video round-up of all the local news on its website. Meanwhile, the content of the physical paper continues to go downhill.

Methinks Gareth Bartlett doth protest too much.

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2 Responses to On the defensive

  1. ninasaada says:

    Interesting post Rachel and I can understand both points of view here. It seems to me that we’re living in a time where it’s necessary for media outlets to have minimal staff but maximum output. It’s a difficult climate right now where many people want constant news and minute by minute updates, but (and this particularly applies to local news) there’s not the workforce to do it. I know how frustrating it is to be confined to a desk when you really want to be out getting the story in quality… but there just doesn’t seem to be the money to do this and reporters have to be a ‘jack of all trades’ and do as much as they can to feed public demand, even if it’s from their desk. (Although your work experience should definately have made the most of your free services… no excuses there!!)

    I agree that this new demand for instant info should not jepordise newspaper content but there’ll always be people who don’t like change, or indeed understand technology and want their paper to stay exactly how it’s always been… But as Rob Kirk from Sky News said “Adapt or die”.

  2. siobhan316 says:

    Heya – really interesting post!

    I think the same myself when I too had work experience for 3 months at a local paper. Only one member of the news team went out to get stories and physically talk to people …. I was lucky to accompany them on those very few stories.

    But the rest of the time it is a matter of sifting through press releases and answering phones.

    But as Nina said money IS the BIG problem on all levels at the moment and that is really effecting the media.

    Linking with the “adapt or die” comment – this I think also stands with all the social media feeds like twitter and facebook status.

    Everything seems to be snowballing but perhaps after time this will calm down and a new way of finding news and presenting it will reveal itself and balance out for a while!?

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